Menikkadawara Viharaya

Menikkadawara Viharaya
Menikkadawara Viharaya (Photo credit: Pasindu Chathurange, Google Street View)

Menikkadawara Purana Viharaya, also known as Menikkadawara Tempita Viharaya (Sinhala: මැණික්කඩවර පුරාණ විහාරය), is a Buddhist temple situated in Menikkadawara village in Kegalle District, Sri Lanka.

According to local belief, the Bodhi tree at this temple is more than 1,000 years old (Abeyawardana, 2002). The 14th-century Thisara Sandeshaya mentioned this place as Ellakola (Abeyawardana, 2002). During the Portuguese occupation (1598-1607 A.D.), a Fortress was built in Menikkadawara and its ruins are still visible near the temple (Abeyawardana, 2002). The name Menikkadawara is found mentioned in the 16th-century war poem Kustantinu Hatana (Abeyawardana, 2002). 

The Tempita Viharaya (the temple on pillars) building of this temple has been constructed during the Kandyan Period.

Tempita Viharaya
Tempita Viharas were a popular aspect of many Buddhist temples during the Kandyan period. These structures were usually built on a wooden platform resting on bare stone pillars or stumps which are about 1-4 feet tall. The roof is generally made of timber and held by wooden stumps. The walls are usually made of wattle and daub and they form the main enclosed shrine room containing the Buddhist sculptures and murals belonging to the Kandyan style. Some Tempita Viharas have narrow verandas and ambulatories circulating the main enclosed space. The construction of these buildings was started in the 17th century and lasted until the end of the 19th century (Wijayawardhana, 2010).

Menikkadawara Tempita Viharaya
The Tempita Viharaya of this temple can be identified as an ancient monument with archaeological value. It is a small building balanced on 14 stone stumps of about 2.5 ft. tall (Abeyawardana, 2002). The floor of it is laid with planks and the walls have been decorated with paintings depicting Buddhist themes.

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.61.
2) Wijayawardhana, K., 2010. Sri Lankawe Tampita Vihara (In Sinhala). Dayawansa Jayakody & Company. Colombo. ISBN: 978-955-551-752-2. p.12.

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This page was last updated on 2 July 2022

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